This week, Gov. Gavin Newsom called for a widespread return of coronavirus-related restrictions, impacting businesses across the Sacramento area as the county slides back into the most restrictive purple tier.
Along with the restrictions related to a purple tiered county, now Newsom has announced a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. every night until Dec. 21.
Sacramento Business Journal Digital Editor Sonya Sorich spoke with CapRadio’s Mike Hagerty to explain what’s happening.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
On the implications of newly renewed COVID-19 restrictions
Those coronavirus restrictions paired with the curfew raise more questions about the future of our local restaurant industry, which was already preparing for a rough winter.
Now indoor operations are prohibited at restaurants in Sacramento, Yolo, Placer and El Dorado counties, all of which are in the state’s most restrictive purple tier. Now, restaurants are responding to these increased restrictions in a variety of ways. Some are heightening their focus on carry-out orders, while others are closing temporarily to try to find a way to make this work.
Folsom Tap House is an example of one of the locally-owned eateries that has temporarily closed. Operators said this week that they’re trying to come up with a plan to reopen, but they can’t afford to stay open under the current restrictions.
We might be seeing more of that; restaurants taking a step back and wondering if it’s even worthwhile to operate under these current restrictions.
On what worries restaurant owners
As cases climb, there's a heightened chance that a restaurant will have to close if an employee has been exposed to the coronavirus. Beyond that, there are some bigger issues to think about.
It's easy to forget how much surrounding businesses affect a restaurant's traffic. I spoke with the owner of Chando's Cantina this week. The restaurant's location in the El Dorado Hills Town Center had previously relied on the nearby movie theater as a source of foot traffic.
Now movie theaters are shut down, and the traffic just isn't there. I think it's important to remember that restaurants can offer all the to-go promotions in the world, but if they previously relied largely on an anchor like a movie theater for traffic, they're really at a severe disadvantage right now.
On other industries affected by the shutdowns
It'll be interesting to see if we see more industry specific advocacy organizations emerge from these shutdowns. I just wrote about an entity, the California Small Fitness Facilities Association, which is working with small fitness studios throughout the state.
This new association is advocating for small fitness facilities to be allowed to operate at 10% capacity indoors when a county is in the state's most restrictive purple tier. Right now, all indoor fitness operations are prohibited in the purple tier.
The founders of this new association say they have no plans to pursue legal action but instead want to work with state and local authorities to find a way to keep small fitness facilities alive.
On how new restrictions and the curfew will be enforced
The curfew will definitely be something unique. We’ll have to see how enforcement of that aspect this compares to the enforcement of the restrictions that have been enacted so far.
Editor's note: Sacramento County Sheriff's and other law enforcement agencies have said they won't enforce the curfew or will focus on education.
Now, for those restrictions, so far, enforcement has been really varied. Several observers have noted that the standards have been vague and sometimes inconsistent. Sacramento County is just now putting together an ordinance to possibly fine businesses that violate coronavirus restrictions.
That ordinance is expected to go to the Board of Supervisors next month. We’ll have to wait and see how many businesses abide by these new strict restrictions and what happens to the ones that don’t and whether the curfew is a factor in all of this.
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